Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

This post begins with the Bishop’s brief analysis of the entire chapter, followed by his notes on the reading for today. These notes include his paraphrasing (in purple) the text he is commenting on.

A Brief Summary of Ephesians 3~The Apostle, after having pointed out in the foregoing chapter, the blessings which the Ephesians were enjoying, refers to his own imprisonment then a matter of celebrity throughout the Church, for having preached to the Gentiles for the purpose of securing for them their present happiness (verse 1). From this he takes occasion to explain more fully the mystery of the vocation of the Gentiles and the divine economy regarding them. He says, that this mystery, regarding their vocation, and their admission to a share of the same blessings with the Jews a secret hidden from the most knowing in past times was made known to himself by revelation (3-7). He states, that he was made a minister of the Gospel, through the pure mercy of God, for the purpose of making known to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and the economy of the mystery, hidden from eternity in God, and not clearly known even to the angels until it was seen fully carried out in the Church (7-11). He points out one of the advantages resulting from this economy on the part of God; it is, that the Gentiles as well as the Jews, are, in consequence, inspired with a filial confidence of approaching God, as children approach a father, and this through the mediation of Jesus (12). He next entreats them, after having been so highly favoured, not to grow faint-hearted or remiss on account of his own chains and afflictions in the cause of the Gospel (13).

He, next, suppliantly implores of God to grant them through his Holy Spirit to be strengthened in grace, and to be enabled to persevere in sanctity. He prays that they may be endowed with a knowledge, even in some degree, of the incomprehensible dimensions of the love of God for us, and that thus they may be fully replenished with heavenly gifts (14-19).

He concludes by calling upon the Church, favoured with so many blessings, to render eternal glory to their divine Source and Author.

Eph 3:2  If yet you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me towards you:

Since you must have heard from me during my three years sojourn, how, by divine dispensation, the grace of the Apostleship was granted to me to be exercised amongst you.

“If yet.”  The Greek of which, ειγε, may also be rendered since, or, whereas. The words make good sense in our construction, thus: “if yet you have heard (as indeed you must have heard) of the dispensation,” &c. This has the same meaning as the other construction. Dispensation in Greek, οικονομιαν, means the economy exercised in the administration of domestic affairs. Hence the passage signifies, you must have been aware, that the great Father of the human family, who portions out their respective offices among his servants, has confided to me the office of apostleship to be exercised amongst you.

Eph 3:3a  How that, according to revelation, the mystery has been made known to me,

You must have been made aware, how the great mystery of the vocation of the Gentiles had been made known to me by revelation

“The mystery” refers to the vocation of the Gentiles, to be “fellow-heirs,” &c. (verse 6), and also to his own mission to preach the gospel amongst them. The words, “you have heard,” (verse 2), are to be repeated in explaining this verse, thus: “you have heard, how that according to revelation,” &c. “Has been made known to me.” For which the common Greek reading is, εγνωρισεν, he hath made known to me. The Vulgate reading, εγνωρισθη, is, however, better supported by ancient authorities.

Eph 3:5  Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit:

A secret or mystery which, in past ages, was not made known to the sons of men, to the extent to which it is now revealed by the Holy Ghost to the holy Apostles and Prophets of the New Law.

The mystery in question is the vocation of the Gentiles and their union with the Jews in the one body of the Church, &c., as in verse, 6. This mystery was not made “known to the sons of men” in past times.

But, did not the prophets of old predict it? Must it not, therefore, have been known to them? Yes; the prophets of old, in consequence of having predicted it, must have known the substance of it; but still, they knew it only in an obscure, general way; and they were ignorant of the several circumstances of time, place, &c., which God revealed to the Apostles by the Holy Ghost. The “prophets” manifestly refer to those of the New Law.

Eph 3:6  That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs and of the same body: and copartners of his promise in Christ Jesus, by the gospel.

This mystery, with which even the most learned among the ancients were not clearly acquainted, is this, viz., that the Gentiles were to be made co-heirs of the same mystical body, i.e., of the same Church, and joint partners with them, of the great promise of redemption which was to be given through Christ, and promulgated by means of the Gospel.

“And co-partners of his promise.” The “promise” referred to is, that made to Abraham. “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” in which are comprised all the blessings of the New Law, briefly expressed by the name of blessings of grace and glory. “In Christ Jesus by the gospel;” “Jesus” is omitted in the ordinary Greek. It is, however, read in the Codex Vaticanus.

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One Response to Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Epiphany of the Lord | stjoeofoblog

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